(Gerard Valentino) As 2014 dawns, the gun community has a lot to be thankful for because of so many hard fought victories in 2013.
The Colorado recall election wins, the failure of President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden’s anti-gun cabal to create momentum for universal gun registration and the end of Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as New York Mayor not only helped our cause in 2013, but will yield benefits for the foreseeable future.
In a stunning turn of events, a judicial ruling forced Illinois to become the [second to, see NJ] last state to allow legal concealed carry as well.
Based on most estimates, 2013 was a record year for gun sales in America with many people buying their very first gun. The gun community also continues to add diversity to the ranks as more women and non-traditional demographic groups started to buy guns in huge numbers.
All is not perfect for America’s gun owners, however, since Colorado, Connecticut and several other states did pass draconian gun control schemes. President Obama continues his use of the presidential bully pulpit to push gun control measures as well, and even though all 50 states have a legal mechanism that allows private citizens to carry guns, in many states the right to carry exists on paper only. In Hawaii [as well as New Jersey], for example, it remains nearly impossible for a private citizen to get a concealed carry license – a situation that calls for reform.
At this point, the low hanging fruit in the battle for restoring the right to bear arms have been picked off and the work will only get harder from here. With that in mind, here are the biggest threats to gun rights for the upcoming year. As usual, the biggest threat to the gun community once again, comes from within.
10. Reactionary Gun Owner – As we move forward, the gun community needs to change how we react to tragedies like the Sandy Hook massacre. Instead of running to the nearest gun shop to buy everything in sight, there needs to be a logical and more measured reaction. By creating a gun buying frenzy, it gives the media a pivot point to equate law-abiding gun owners with spree killers. Sadly, the victims’ bodies aren’t even cold yet and the anti-gun leadership and media ramp up their exploitation machine. But, the same is true when it comes to gun owners sprinting to the local gun shop to gobble up the entire stock of .223 ammo. We are all guilty. I still remember buying my first SKS right after the Clinton AWB passed and early in my life ran out to buy ammo each time a spree killing took place. There is also an increase in gun prices and the prices of ammunition which freezes the less financially well-off among us out of the market. This issue is a hard sell among gun owners and not a popular opinion. So, there is little chance things will change after the next spree killing.
9. The Next Dick Metcalf – Despite being rebuked for pushing his anti-gun viewpoint in one of the flagship gun magazines, Dick Metcalf hasn’t learned his lesson and continues to claim he was wronged by the gun community. The anti-gun media is already trying to portray his exile as being driven by a vocal minority in the gun movement. Metcalf is feeding that myth and that is further proof of his status as an anti-gun gun owner. As he fades into oblivion, Metcalf will also lose his voice and his 15 minutes of mainstream media fame will be over as well. The unfortunate fact, however, is another Dick Metcalf will pop up or will be created by the anti-gun leadership and it is people of that ilk who do tremendous damage to the pro-gun cause.
8. Anti-gun Gun Clubs/Sportsmen’s Groups (FUDS) – Too many gun clubs cling to the misguided stereotype about handgun owners and civilian tactical gun aficionados. Even with the explosion of concealed carry there are still gun club directors who want to ban the practice on club premises. By doing so, they create an argument for the anti-gun establishment media, or the anti-gun movement to claim that even gun clubs believe concealed carry licensees can’t be trusted. The good news is that many clubs have been enlightened, but even one club that bans their legally licensed members from carrying is too many. Consider too that some established “sportsmen’s clubs” are opposing the use of noise suppressors for hunting which highlights the fact that some gun groups haven’t changed with the times.
7. Law Enforcement Bureaucrats and Union Leaders – In Ohio, the Fraternal Order of Police has never supported a pro-gun bill. They also use the same misguided prediction that any loosening of gun laws will lead to countless dead police officers. Luckily, that line of thinking has long since been discredited, but we need to remember that the general public still clings to the silly notion that law enforcement officials are experts on civilian gun ownership. Instead, we need them to accept that it takes a civilian to understand how citizens utilize guns.
6. Michael Bloomberg – Bloomberg can turn his attention to pushing his misguided anti-gun agenda without being constrained by his duties as the Mayor of New York. If he turns his attention to gun control full-time, it will threaten gun rights in a way not seen since the passage of the Clinton Assault Weapons ban in 1994. Based on his spokesman’s statement that until now he only put his “toe in the water” in the gun rights battle and will now “put his whole foot in,” it might signal a mortal threat to our rights. Only his lack of effectiveness to this point keeps him so low on the list – a situation that can change, quickly.
5. Harry Reid (D-NV) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has almost total control of the chamber’s legislative agenda, making him one of the most powerful individuals in America. His position gave him the ability to ram through the so-called “nuclear option” when it comes to presidential appointees to the federal courts. By doing so, Reid took away the best option pro-gun Senators had for blocking the confirmation of anti-gun judges to the bench. In typical fashion, President Barack Obama praised the move and will likely use Reid’s gutless maneuver to add judges to the court who would otherwise be blocked by a filibuster. This situation poses a grave threat to gun rights since pro-gun advocates carry such a slim margin on the Supreme Court. Sadly, however, it is a self-inflicted wound since President Obama needed gun owners to vote for him to win in 2008 and 2012.
4. The Establishment Media – As gun ownership and legal concealed carry become more common, it hasn’t forced the establishment media to stop pursuing their traditional anti-gun bias. Coverage of the George Zimmermann-Trayvon Martin incident was one-sided and, despite the increase in minority gun owners, the establishment media continues to push the myth that all gun owners are rural, uneducated whites who have more in common with Klu Klux Klan members than mainstream Americans. It’s a portrayal of gun owners that is impossible to support, considering the explosion of concealed carry across America and the sheer number of guns being purchased. Sadly, the truth won’t get in the way of the establishment media’s quest to push gun control, and our fight for fair coverage will continue.
3. President Barack Obama/Vice President Joe Biden – The power of the President can never be undersold and, now that he is a lame duck, he has nothing to lose. If the Democrats pick up seats in the upcoming congressional elections it will only serve to empower President Obama and his lackey – Joe Biden. President Obama has also shown a willingness to use the Executive Order as a means of pushing his gun control agenda. By far the biggest threat, however, is if President Obama gets to appoint another Supreme Court Justice because he can tip the court in favor of the anti-gun minority in America.
2. The Conspiracy Theorist Gun Owner – Sadly, there are gun owners out there who think by getting a concealed carry license, or permit, it will put their name on a mythical government created list. These are the same people who refuse to buy a gun at a gun shop because it creates a paper trail. Yet, most people in this demographic think nothing of ranting about the evil federal government on every gun related forum on the Internet – a move that will immediately flag them if the government is secretly making a list to use in the eventual confiscation of guns in America. Refusing to get a concealed carry license only serves to give elected officials an artificial number for how many pro-gun voters exist in their district. Such a dynamic can affect the passage of pro-gun bills since elected officials see every concealed carry license holder as a voter. If that number is reduced, it has a direct effect on the gun lobby’s ability to protect the right to keep and bear arms. If there were 750,000 license holders in Ohio, gubernatorial candidates would do anything possible to show they are pro-gun.
1. Gun Owners that Voted for President Obama – When Barack Obama was elected to a second term as President, it set the pro-gun movement back at least 10 years. Granted, President Obama can’t run for another term, but the damage done by gun advocates who cast a vote for the most anti-gun president in U.S. history will also have a detrimental effect as we move forward. President Obama might get to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice, and combined with Senate Majority Leader Reid’s cowardly decision to end filibusters in cases of presidential appointees, even the Senate’s pro-gun Democrats are powerless to stop him. While it’s true that Obama ran away from his anti-gun record during both campaigns for president, the fact remains that his record of action to destroy gun rights was well known, and he continues to probe for ways to use presidential executive orders to infringe on the right to bear arms.
By finding a way to get so many gun owners to vote for him, President Obama also gave the next anti-gun Democratic candidate for president a blue-print on how to trick gun owners in future elections. You can bet Hillary Clinton and other Democrats learned from the Obama campaign and will use the same plan in 2016.
Where the pro-Obama gun owners become a huge threat, however, is in the upcoming Congressional elections. If the anti-gun Democrats are able to trick enough gun owners it might give them total control of the government, which will be an unmitigated disaster for the future of gun rights. As gun owners continue to win the battle to expand the right to keep and bear arms, far too many have forgotten how important it is to vote only for pro-gun candidates – a situation that was exploited by Barack Obama and can’t be allowed to continue.
According to some studies there are upwards of 100 million gun owners in America. Yet, the National Rifle Association has less than 7 million members. There are more than 300,000 concealed carry license holders in Ohio, yet Barack Obama won the state in 2012 by less than 200,000 votes.
The biggest threat to gun rights remains guns owners, a fact that hasn’t changed in the last 50 years, and, sadly, isn’t likely to change in 2014.
Gerard Valentino, a former military intelligence analyst, is a member of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Board of Directors and the author of “The Valentino Chronicles – Observations of a Middle Class Conservative,” available through the Buckeye Firearms Association store.